Sigil (magic)

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An excerpt from Sefer Raziel HaMalakh, featuring various magical sigils (or סגולות, seguloth, in Hebrew).

A sigil (pronounced /ˈsɪdʒəl/ or /ˈsɪgəl/; pl. sigilia or sigils) is a symbol created for a specific magical purpose. A sigil is usually made up of a complex combination of several specific symbols or geometric figures each with a specific meaning or intent.

The term sigil derives from the Latin sigillum meaning "seal," though it may also be related to the Hebrew סגולה (segulah meaning "word, action or item of spiritual effect"). A sigil may have an abstract, pictorial or semi-abstract form.


[edit] Historical uses

Sigil magic is a common form of magical work among practitioners; symbols and signs have always been a tool of magicians and alchemists. The ancient Germanic bind runes can be presented as examples of the idea.

In medieval ceremonial magic, the term sigil was commonly used to refer to occult signs which represented various angels and demons which the magician might summon. The magical training books called the Grimoires often listed pages of such sigils. A particularly well-known list is in the Lesser Key of Solomon, in which the sigils of the 72 princes of the hierarchy of hell are given for the magician's use. Such sigils were considered to be the equivalent of the true name of the spirit, and thus granted the magician a measure of control over the beings.

Sigils are commonly found in Jewish mysticism and Kabbalistic magic (being an especial focus of Sefer Raziel HaMalakh and other medieval Jewish mystical sources) upon which much of Western magic is based.

[edit] Modern uses

A Modern Personal Sigil

In modern uses, the concept was mostly popularized by Austin Osman Spare, who published a method by which the words of a statement of intent are reduced into an abstract design; the sigil is then charged with the will of the creator. Spare's technique, now known as sigilization, has become a core element of chaos magic. The inherently individualistic nature of chaos magic leads most chaos magicians to prepare and cast sigils in unique ways, as the process of sigilization has never been defined rigorously and the magician is expected to 'fill in the blank spots' by his or her self. Sigils are used for magical spells as well as for the creation of thoughtforms.

Modern sigils may appear in any medium—physical, virtual, or mental. Visual symbols are the traditional, and presumably still most popular form, but the use of aural and tactile symbols in magic is not unheard of.

A hypersigil is an extended work of art with magical meaning and willpower, created using adapted processes of sigilization. This contextual meaning has been popularized by Grant Morrison, who claims that his comic series, The Invisibles, is a hypersigil.

The appendix to The Art Of Memetics by Edward Wilson & Wes Unruh defines a sigil as "an intersection of the glyph, the time of the glyph’s making, the energy behind the glyph, and the intent in which the glyph was formed."..."From the threads of these four energies a knot is tied on the altar of the mage’s consciousness. This 5th energy, this secret knot now tied, is the true sigil."

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